When you visit the Western Wall in Jerusalem, you can see up close why it is considered the holiest place for prayer by the Jewish people. I was there last week during a journalism fellowship with Fuenta Latina, a nonprofit that educates reporters about Israel today.
Every year, millions of Jews from all over the world visit the wall to pray. Tourists who are non-Jews also visit the wall to pay their respects. Men and women pray in separate sections.
Next week when President Donald Trump goes to Israel he will make a stop at the Western Wall. He will be the first U.S. sitting President to do so. Other presidents have visited the sacred wall but as private citizens.
People in Jerusalem I talked to are curious to learn more about the billionaire turn reality star turn U.S. President. From hotel clerks to taxi drivers they told me they look forward to Trump’s visit to Israel. but wonder if he will create more chaos than peace.
Trump is already getting bad press in Israel because it appears he has snubbed Israel’s Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu. Israeli TV Channel 2 is reporting that Trump’s delegation has not only turned down Netanyahu’s request to go with Trump to the wall but also someone from the delegation insulted Israeli officials claiming the wall was not Israeli Territory.
Tuesday National Security Adviser, General H.R. McMaster at a White House briefing confirmed “No Israeli leaders will join President Trump at the Western Wall.” McMaster would not confirm or deny whether Trump believed the Western Wall was not Israeli territory when asked by reporters.
The wall is the only remains of the Second Temple of Jerusalem that was destroyed by the Romans in 70 CE. Israelis seized the Western Wall in the Old City from the Jordanians, along with East Jerusalem in the 1967 Mideast war, and it is not officially recognized internationally as Israeli territory.
Rebecca Aguilar is an award-winning freelance reporter with 35 years experience. She was part of the May 2017 Fuenta Latina Fellowship to Israel.